How to Install Xfce on Ubuntu 24.04, 22.04, or 20.04

The XFCE desktop environment is a lightweight, fast, and highly customizable alternative to Ubuntu’s default GNOME desktop environment. Its simplicity and efficiency make it a popular choice among users who seek a streamlined experience without sacrificing functionality.

Key Features of XFCE:

  • Lightweight Performance: Optimized for speed and low memory usage, making it ideal for older hardware.
  • Highly Customizable: Extensive options to tweak appearance and behavior to suit individual preferences.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Intuitive and easy to navigate, reducing the learning curve for new users.
  • Modular Components: Offers a suite of components that can be used independently, ensuring flexibility.
  • Stable and Reliable: Proven track record of stability, ensuring a dependable user experience.

Benefits of Using XFCE:

  • Improved System Performance: Reduces resource consumption, freeing up system resources for other tasks.
  • Enhanced Productivity: Customizable workflows and tools cater to personal and professional needs.
  • Long-Term Support: Regular updates and a strong community ensure ongoing support and improvements.

Transitioning to XFCE on Ubuntu can breathe new life into your system, offering a fresh, efficient environment tailored to your needs. Next, we will cover installing this alternative desktop environment on your system.

Prerequisites for Installing XFCE

To successfully install XFCE on Ubuntu, ensure you meet the following requirements:

System Requirements and Supported Ubuntu Versions

Processor1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster dual-core processor
RAM1 GB or more
Disk Space25 GB of free space
NetworkBroadband internet connection
Supported VersionsUbuntu 24.04 (Noble), Ubuntu 22.04 (Jammy), Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal)

Additional Requirements

Internet ConnectionRequired to download XFCE and updates.
Terminal ConventionsAll terminal commands should be run as a regular user with sudo privileges.
CLI CommandsUse the Command Line Interface (CLI) for installation and setup.

Update Ubuntu Before Xfce Installation

Ensure your system is up-to-date before starting the installation process. Open a terminal and run the following command.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Install Xfce via APT Command

The next step is to install the Xfce desktop environment on Ubuntu. Run the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install xfce4 xfce4-goodies

Once you have installed the Xfce desktop environment, the final step is to restart your system. This can be quickly done by entering the following command into your terminal.


Log in to the XFCE Desktop Environment

After restarting your desktop, you’ll be brought to the login screen. Before logging in, you must switch to the Xfce desktop environment. To do this, click on the settings icon in the top right corner of the screen and select “Xfce Session” instead of the default “Ubuntu (Default).”

Now that you’ve successfully installed the Xfce desktop environment on Ubuntu, it’s time to explore its unique features. Upon logging in, you’ll immediately notice several visual changes, including a color scheme and background change. Despite its lightweight design, Xfce offers a sleek and modern user interface.

Managing XFCE

Updating XFCE and Associated Packages

The importance of keeping your system updated cannot be overstated. Regular updates bring new features, patch security vulnerabilities, and improve performance. The XFCE desktop environment is part of this update cycle. To initiate the update, you’ll need to use apt commands.

First, execute the following command to refresh your package list:

sudo apt update

This command fetches the latest package metadata from the repositories, ensuring you know the most recent versions.

If the system finds any updates during the refresh, run the following command to upgrade your installed packages:

sudo apt upgrade

This command downloads and installs the latest versions of the packages you have on your system, including XFCE. It ensures that your desktop environment stays up-to-date with the latest bug fixes and security patches.

Switching Between Display Managers

XFCE generally employs LightDM as its default display manager. However, if you switch to another desktop environment like GNOME, you may prefer using GDM3. Changing the display manager is straightforward.

Execute the following command to start the reconfiguration:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure lightdm

After running this command, a prompt will appear, allowing you to select your desired display manager. Ensure to reboot your system for the changes, as the display manager only switches during the boot process.

Removing XFCE from Ubuntu Linux

There could be scenarios where you want to remove XFCE from your system—maybe you wish to try out a different desktop environment, or perhaps you want to revert to a previous setup. To altogether remove XFCE and its related files, execute the following command:

sudo apt autoremove '^xfce' --purge

This command eliminates XFCE and any associated files, reverting your desktop environment to its previous state.

If you plan to reinstall the GNOME Desktop Environment after removing XFCE, you’ll need to refresh your package list and reinstall the necessary packages as follows:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install gnome gdm3 task-gnome-desktop --reinstall

Before rebooting, ensure that GDM3 is set as the active display manager. If you overlook this step, you may find yourself in a terminal or text-based login interface. To avoid this, activate GDM3 by executing:

To finalize all changes, a system reboot is necessary:

sudo reboot

This action will reboot your system, thereby implementing all your changes.


This article showed you how to install the Xfce desktop environment on Ubuntu. Xfce is a fast and lightweight desktop environment with many customization options. If you do not like it, you can re-login to GNOME or, better yet, remove XFCE entirely to clean up your system.

Helpful and Related Links

Here are some valuable links related to using XFCE:

  • XFCE Official Website: Visit the website for information about the desktop environment, features, and download options.
  • XFCE Wiki: Access the XFCE Wiki for comprehensive documentation, tutorials, and user guides.
  • XFCE Documentation: Explore detailed documentation for using and configuring XFCE.
  • XFCE Forum: Join the XFCE forum to discuss issues, share solutions, and get support from the community.
  • XFCE GitLab Repository: Visit the XFCE GitLab repository to view the source code, report issues, and contribute to the development.
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